The Luhansk People's Republic (LPR or LNR), also known as Lugansk People's Republic (Russian: Луга́нская Наро́дная Респу́блика, Luganskaya Narodnaya Respublika, LNR; [lʊˈɡanskəjə nɐˈrodnəjə rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə]; Ukrainian: Луганська Народна Республіка, Luhanska Narodna Respublika), is a self-proclaimed state in eastern Ukraine, bordering the Russian Federation, the Donetsk People's Republic (also self-proclaimed), and Ukraine itself. Along with the Donetsk People's Republic and the Republic of Crimea, the Luhansk People's Republic is one of what the Ukrainian government calls the "temporarily occupied territories".
Following the Euromaidan protest movement and the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, local Anti-Maidan and pro-Russian protests intensified, culminating in the proclamation of the Luhansk People's Republic on 27 April 2014. The authorities of the Republic later held a referendum on 11 May to seek legitimacy for the proclamation, and subsequently declared independence on 12 May 2014. On 24 May 2014, the self-proclaimed government agreed to a merger with the Donetsk People's Republic into an unrecognized confederation known as Novorossiya (thereby making a reference to the corresponding historical region and its name). The Republic is recognised only by South Ossetia, which itself only has limited international recognition. On 20 May 2015 the leadership of the Federal State of Novorossiya announced the termination of the confederation 'project'.
Ukraine classifies the Republic as a terrorist organisation.
The northern part of Luhansk Oblast, which is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking, has remained under Ukrainian control. Although the LPR lost control of much of the Oblast, and currently govern less than half of their territorial claim, the Ukrainian government estimates that about 64.4% of the population of the Oblast live under separatist rule. This is because the LPR's stronghold in the southern part of the Oblast is also the most densely populated area in the Oblast, and is the location of major cities like Luhansk, Alchevsk, and Krasnodon.
11 February 2015 the LPR leadership signed the Minsk II agreement that arranged rebel held territory reintegration into Ukraine and the overhauling the Ukrainian constitution to grant it a special status within Ukraine's borders. The next week the LPR leadership said that "If Ukraine remains like it is now, we will never be together." Since it approved it in a first reading with 265 votes on 31 August 2015 the Ukrainian parliament has not scheduled a second reading vote to implement the constitutional reform set out in the Minsk II agreement (300 votes are needed in this second reading).
Since February 2017, Russia recognizes identity documents, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates and vehicle registration plates issued by the LPR until there is a "political settlement of the situation", based on the Minsk II agreement in separatist controlled regions.
One-thousand pro-Russian activists seized and occupied the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) building in the city of Luhansk on 6 April 2014, following similar occupations in Donetsk and Kharkiv. The activists demanded that separatist leaders who had been arrested in previous weeks be released. In anticipation of attempts by the government to retake the building, barricades were erected to reinforce the positions of the activists. It was proposed by the activists that a "Lugansk Parliamentary Republic" be declared on 8 April 2014, but did not occur. By 12 April, the government had regained control over the SBU building with the assistance of local police forces.
Several thousand protesters gathered for a 'people's assembly' outside the regional state administration (RSA) building in Luhansk city on 21 April. These protesters called for the creation of a 'people's government', and demanded either federalisation or incorporation into the Russian Federation. They elected Valery Bolotov as 'People's Governor' of Luhansk Oblast. Two referendums were announced by the leadership of the activists. One was scheduled for 11 May, and was meant to determine whether the region would seek greater autonomy (and potentially independence), or retain its previous constitutional status within Ukraine. Another referendum, meant to be held on 18 May in the event that the first referendum favoured autonomy, was to determine whether the region would join the Russian Federation, or become independent.
During a gathering outside the RSA building on 27 April 2014, pro-Russian activists proclaimed the "Luhansk People's Republic". The protesters issued demands, which said that the Ukrainian government should provide amnesty for all protesters, enshrine Russian as an official language of Ukraine, and also hold a referendum on the status of Luhansk Oblast. They then warned the Ukrainian government that if it did not meet these demands by 14:00 on 29 April, they would launch an armed insurgency in tandem with that of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). As the Ukrainian government did not respond to these demands, 2,000 to 3,000 activists, some of them armed, attempted to seize the RSA building, and a local prosecutor's office, on 29 April. The buildings were both ransacked, and then occupied by the protesters. Protestors waived local flags, alongside those of Russia and the neighbouring Donetsk People's Republic. Some police officers that had been guarding the building defected supported the activists, providing little resistance to the takeover.
Demonstrations by pro-Russian activists began to spread across Luhansk Oblast towards the end of April. The municipal administration building in Pervomaisk was overrun on 29 April 2014, and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) flag was raised over it. Oleksandr Turchynov, then acting president of Ukraine, admitted the next day that government forces were unable to stabilise the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. One the same day, activists seized control of the Alchevsk municipal administration building. In Krasnyi Luch, the municipal council conceded to demands by activists to support the 11 May 2014 referendum, and followed by raising the Russian flag over the building.
Insurgents occupied the municipal council building in Stakhanov on 1 May 2014. Later in the week, they stormed the local police station, business centre, and SBU building. Activists in Rovenky occupied a police building there on 5 May, but quickly left. On the same day, the police headquarters in Slovianoserbsk was seized by members of the Army of the South-East, a pro-Russian Luhansk regional militia group. In addition, the town of Antratsyt was occupied by the Don Cossacks. Some said that the occupiers came from Russia, but the Cossacks themselves said that "almost nobody" had come from Russia. On 7 May, insurgents also seized the prosecutor's office in Sievierodonetsk. Luhansk People's Republic supporters stormed government buildings in Starobilsk on 8 May, replacing the Ukrainian flag with that of the Republic. Sources within the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said that as of 10 May 2014, the day before the proposed status referendum, Ukrainian forces still retained control over fifty percent of Luhansk Oblast.
The planned referendum on the status of Luhansk oblast was held on 11 May 2014. The organisers of the referendum said that 96.2% of those who voted were in favour of self-rule, with 3.8% against. They said that voter turnout was at 81%. There were no international observers present to validate the referendum.
Following the referendum, the head of the Republic, Valery Bolotov, said that the Republic had become an "independent state". The still-extant Luhansk Oblast Council, on the other hand, called for immediate federalisation of Ukraine, asserting that "an absolute majority of people voted for the right to make their own decisions about how to live". The council also requested an immediate end to Ukrainian military activity in the region, amnesty for anti-government protestors, and official status for the Russian language in Ukraine. Valery Bolotov was wounded in an assassination attempt on 13 May. Luhansk People's Republic authorities blamed the incident on the Ukrainian government. Government forces later captured Alexei Rilke, the commander of the Army of the South-East. The next day, Ukrainian border guards arrested Valery Bolotov. Just over two hours later, after unsuccessfully attempting negotiations, 150 to 200 armed separatists attacked the Dovzhansky checkpoint where he had been held. The ensuing firefight led Ukrainian government forces to free Bolotov. No formal declaration of statehood had been received by the United Nations as of 20 May.
On 24 May 2014 the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic jointly announced their intention to form a confederative "union of People's Republics" called New Russia. Republic President Valery Bolotov said on 28 May that the Luhansk People's Republic would begin to introduce its own legislation based on Russian law; he said Ukrainian law was unsuitable due to it being "written for oligarchs". Vasily Nikitin, prime minister of the Republic, announced that elections to the State Council would take place in September.
The leadership of the Luhansk People's Republic said on 12 June 2014 that it would attempt to establish a "union state" with Russia. The government added that it would seek to boost trade with Russia through legislative, agricultural and economic changes.
Stakhanov, a city that had been occupied by LPR-affiliated Don Cossacks, seceded from the Luhansk People's Republic on 14 September 2014. Don Cossacks there proclaimed the Republic of Stakhanov, and said that a "Cossack government" now ruled in Stakhanov. However the following day this was claimed to be a fabrication, and an unnamed Don Cossack leader stated the 14 September meeting had, in fact, resulted in 12,000 Cossacks volunteering to join the LPR forces. Elections to the LPR Supreme Soviet took place on 2 November 2014, as the LPR did not allow the Ukrainian parliamentary election to be held in territory under its control.
On 2 January 2015 Forces loyal to the Luhansk People's Republic ambushed and killed Alexander Bednov, head of a pro-Russian battalion called "Batman". Bednov was accused of (an arrest warrant for Bednov and several other battalion members had been issued by the separatists' prosecutor's office) murder, abduction and other abuses.
In Antratsyt the leader of Don Cossack militant group controlling the town, Nikolai Kozitsyn, stated on 4 January 2015 that the territory controlled by his group had become part of the "Russian empire", and that Russian president Vladimir Putin was its "emperor".
On 12 February 2015 DPR and LPR leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky signed the Minsk II agreement. In the Minsk agreement it is agreed to introducing amendments to the Ukrainian constitution "the key element of which is decentralisation" and the holding of elections "On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, based in the line set up by the Minsk Memorandum as of 19 September 2014"; in return rebel held territory would be reintegrated into Ukraine. Representatives of the DPR and LPR continue to forward their proposals concerning Minsk II to the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine. Plotnitsky told journalists on 18 February 2015: "Will we be part of Ukraine? This depends on what kind of Ukraine it will be. If it remains like it is now, we will never be together."
On 20 May 2015 the leadership of the Federal State of Novorossiya announced the termination of the confederation 'project'.
On 19 April 2016 planned (organised by the LPR) local elections were postponed from 24 April to 24 July 2016. On 22 July 2016 this elections was again postponed to 6 November 2016. (On 2 October 2016 the DPR and LPR held "primaries" in were voters voted to nominate candidates for participation in the 6 November 2016 elections. Ukraine denounced these "primaries" as illegal.) On 4 November 2016 both DPR and LPR postponed their 6 November 2016 local elections "until further notice".
The "LPR Prosecutor General's Office" announced late September 2016 that it had thwarted a coup attempt ringleaded by former LPR appointed prime minister Gennady Tsypkalov (who they stated had committed suicide on 23 September while in detention). Meanwhile, it had also imprisoned former LPR parliamentary speaker Aleksey Karyakin and former LPR interior minister, Igor Kornet. DPR leader Zakharchenko said he had helped to thwart the coup (stating “I had to send a battalion to solve their problems").
On 4 February 2017 LNR defence minister Oleg Anashchenko was killed in a car bomb attack in Luhansk. Separatists claimed "Ukrainian secret services" were suspected of being behind the attack; while Ukrainian officials suggested Anashchenko's death may be the result of an internal power struggle among rebel leaders.
LPR is landlocked and borders Ukraine (i.e., the rest of Ukraine) to the north, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic to the west, and Russia to the east. The territory controlled by the LPR is mostly, but not completely, coincident with the right (southern) bank of the Donets.
The highest point of the Luhansk People's Republic (and the whole Donbass) is Grave Mechetna hill (367.1 m (1,204 ft) above sea level), which is located in the vicinity of the city Petrovske.
Since late 2014, the Luhansk People's Republic controls the following administrative divisions of Luhansk Oblast:Luhansk Municipality
Krasnyi Luch Municipality
To facilitate the governance, the Verkhovna Rada on 7 October 2014 made some changes in the administrative divisions, so that the localities in the government-controlled areas were grouped into raions.
The State Council of the LPR ratified a temporary constitution on 18 May 2014.Head: Valery Bolotov
Prime Minister: Sergei Gennadevich Tsyplakov
Head: Igor Plotnitsky
Prime Minister: Vasily Nikitin
Chief of the Luhansk People's Militia: German Prokopyev
Foreign Minister: Irina Filatova
Minister of Education: Lesya Laptev
Interior Minister: Yuri Ivakin
Defense Minister: Igor Plotnitsky
Bolotov dismissed the government that had served since the proclamation of the LPR on 4 July 2014, with no reason given. Marat Bashirov was appointed acting prime minister, whilst other ministers were ordered to continue working until the appointment of a new government. Dmytro Semenov and Vasily Nikitin were appointed as acting deputy prime ministers. Bashirov received the task of establishing the structure of LPR executive agencies, and of ensuring that their official names complied with the LPR constitution within a week of his appointment. (Bashirov, born at Izhevsk in Russia in 1964, is a Russian lobbyist and a formerly served as an assistant to the chairman of the Federation Council's Committee on Foreign Affairs. Bashirov also has held senior positions at billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's Renova conglomerate and IES Holding.)
A new government formed in August 2014 included:Prime Minister: Hennadiy Mykolaiovych Tsypkalov
Chairman of the State Council: Oleksiy Viacheslavovych Karyakin
First Deputy Prime Minister: Vasyliy Oleksandrovych Nikitin
Tsypkalov asked to be dismissed on 26 December 2015 and was replaced by Serhiy Kozlov the same day.
The Luhansk People's Republic's parliament was called the People's Council and had 50 deputies. (Former speaker) Aleksey Karyakin was elected as its first head on 18 May 2014.
Parliamentary elections to the legislature of the Luhansk People's Republic were held on 2 November 2014. People of at least 30 years old who "permanently resided in Luhansk People's Republic the last 10 years" were electable for four years and could be nominated by public organizations. All residents of Luhansk Oblast were eligible to vote, even if they are residents of areas controlled by Ukrainian government forces or fled to Russia or other places in Ukraine as refugees.
Ukraine urged Russia to use its influence to stop the election "to avoid a frozen conflict". Russia on the other hand indicated it "will of course recognise the results of the election"; Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the election "will be important to legitimise the authorities there". Ukraine held the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election on 26 October 2014; these were boycotted by the Donetsk People's Republic and hence voting for it did not take place in Ukraine's eastern districts controlled by forces loyal to the Luhansk People's Republic.
On 6 July 2015 the Luhansk People's Republic leader (LPR) Igor Plotnitsky set elections for "mayors and regional heads" for 1 November 2015 in territory under his control. (Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) leader Alexander Zakharchenko issued a decree on 2 July 2015 that ordered local DPR elections to be held on 18 October 2015. He said that this action was "in accordance with the Minsk agreements".) On 6 October 2015 the DNR and LPR leadership postponed their planned elections to 21 February 2016. This happened 4 days after a Normandy four meeting in which it was agreed that the October 2015 Ukrainian local elections in LPR and DPR controlled territories would be held in accordance to the February 2015 Minsk II agreement. At the meeting President of France François Hollande stated that in order to hold these elections (in LPR and DPR controlled territories) it was necessary "since we need three months to organize elections" to held these elections in 2016. Also during the meeting it is believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to use his influence to not allow the DPR and Luhansk People's Republic election to take place on 18 October 2015 and 1 November 2015. On 4 November 2016 both DPR and LPR postponed their local elections, they had set for 6 November 2016, "until further notice".
As of May 2015, pensions started being paid in mostly rubles by the Luhansk People's Republic. 85% were in rubles, 12% in hryvnias, and 3% in dollars according to LPR Head Igor Plotnitsky. Ukraine completely stopped paying pensions for the elderly and disabled in areas under DPR and LPR control on 1 December 2014.
Its anthem is "Glory to Lugansk People's Republic! (Russian Language: Луганской Народной Республике, Слава!, also known as Live and Shine, LNR)".
The United Nations observed (in May 2014) an "alarming deterioration" of human rights in insurgent-held territory in eastern Ukraine. The UN detailed growing lawlessness, documenting cases of targeted killings, torture, and abduction, carried out by Luhansk People's Republic insurgents. The UN also highlighted threats, attacks, and abductions of journalists and international observers, as well as the beatings and attacks on supporters of Ukrainian unity.
In September 2014, the Parliament of the Luhansk People's Republic adopted a law that would introduce "criminal liability for homosexuality". According to that law, gay means being punished for 5 years in prison or "corrective" labour for a term of two to four years, however it is not clear when the law is effective.
In November 2014, Amnesty International called the "People's Court" (public trials where allegedly random locals are the jury) held in the Luhansk People's Republic "an outrageous violation of the international humanitarian law".
An 18 November 2014 United Nations report on eastern Ukraine stated that the Luhansk People's Republic was in a state of "total breakdown of law and order". The report noted "cases of serious human rights abuses by the armed groups continued to be reported, including torture, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, summary executions, forced labour, sexual violence, as well as the destruction and illegal seizure of property may amount to crimes against humanity". The report also stated that the insurgents violated the rights of Ukrainian-speaking children because schools in rebel-controlled areas only teach in Russian. The United Nations also accused the Ukrainian Army and Ukrainian (volunteer) territorial defense battalions of human rights abuses such as illegal detention, torture and ill-treatment, noting official denials. In a 15 December 2014 press conference in Kiev UN Assistant Secretary-General for human rights Ivan Šimonović stated that the majority of human rights violations, including executions without trial, arrests and torture, were committed in areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
In January 2015, the Luhansk Communist Party criticised the current situation in the region. In their statement they expressed "deep disappointment" with how the situation developed from "authentic people's protests a year ago" to "return of corruption and banditism".
On 24 December 2015 the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in Ukraine reported that in territory controlled by the Luhansk People's Republic "Parallel 'justice systems' have begun operating". They found this new judiciary to be "non-transparent, subject to constant change, seriously under-resourced and, in many instances, completely non-functional". An early March 2016 United Nations OHCHR report stated that people that lived in separatist controlled areas were experiencing "complete absence of rule of law, reports of arbitrary detention, torture and incommunicado detention, and no access to real redress mechanisms".
In May 2016 law enforcement forces of the self-proclaimed republic announced prosecution of "Babay" (a.k.a. Aleksandr Mozhaev), a well-known figure among the Cossacks in LNR, but the captured person (Vladimir Timofeev) turned out to be an imposter.
The Luhansk People's Republic has been recognized by South Ossetia.
On 18 February 2017 President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities to recognize identity documents, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates and vehicle registration plates as issued by the LPR (and the Donetsk People's Republic) until a "political settlement of the situation" in separatists controlled regions based the Minsk II agreement is reached. The decision enabled people living in LPR controlled territories to travel, work or study in Russia. According to the decree it was signed "to protect human rights and freedoms" in accordance with "the widely recognized principles of international humanitarian law." Ukrainian authorities decried the decision as being directly contradictory to the Minsk II agreement and that it "legally recognised the quasi-state terrorist groups which cover Russia's occupation of part of Donbas."